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Indian American Faces Charges for Sending Money to Islamic State Women in Syria

Mohammed Azharuddin Chhipa could face up to 20 years in prison for proving support to ISIS.

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Mohammed Azharuddin Chhipa, an Indian-American living in Virginia’s Fairfax County in the United States, has been charged with wiring thousands of dollars to Islamic State women in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria. 

According to a media report published by The Washington Post on Friday, Chhipa sent the money in hopes of smuggling the women out of a Syrian refugee camp.

It was said in the report that the India-born 33-year-old used his social media accounts to raise funds for the IS women. He also allegedly voiced his support for violent jihad online.

According to an FBI filing, Chippa began using social media in 2019 to raise funds for "sisters" in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria. He also claimed that he was raising the money for their “shelter".

A large number of the women held in this camp were married to Islamic State fighters who were killed or captured while fighting the US-backed forces for control of Syrian territory. The camp "is assessed to be a stronghold of ISIS ideology," according to the FBI. 

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He was also allegedly in contact with a British-born woman, who was an Islamic State member living in Syria. The pair allegedly discussed transferring money overseas in a way that might avoid any detection, revealed the official filing. The woman remained unnamed in the court papers. 

Chippa's financial records between 2019 to 2022 obtained by the FBI reportedly showed that he purchased USD 172,000 in virtual currency and collected USD 15,000 in digital funds from other donors.

An FBI agent alleged in the court filing that more than $18,000 “went to wallets known to be used by ISIS women located in Syria.” 

The agent also said that the total funds Chhipa transferred to smuggle Islamic State women out of the refugee camp in Syria could be much higher, and that $60,000 remained unaccounted to date.

The FBI filing stated that "thousands of videos, pictures, essays, books, notes, and search histories about extremist ideology, jihad, ISIS, and violent propaganda on multiple devices" were found during a search of Chhipa's home in 2019.

The filing added that Chhipa met an undercover FBI employee in August 2021 from whom he collected $300, and then wired it to his female Islamic State contact in Syria.

Two months later, he collected another $120 and $260 in November 2021. In January 2022, he again collected $160 from the same undercover FBI employee. He stayed in his vehicle while his mother retrieved the cash every single time, and then he transmitted it to the British-born female contact in Syria.

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Currently, he is being held in jail following an initial appearance in a Virginia court on Friday, 5 May. If convicted, Chhupa could face up to 20 years in prison for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation.

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